Time and Real Life

tree in corn field

I am sitting in my office at my desk, which used to be the kitchen table at my parents house – one of those old white enamel things with the red trim around the edges.

My mini-fountain is gurgling away from where it sits on an old stool. I find peace in this sound of water. It makes me feel closer to the outdoors, to nature, to something wild, which makes sitting at a computer bearable.

I am surrounded by books and clutter and computer screens. Many of the books are useful but not pretty. I pull the thesaurus off the shelf when I can’t find the right word. Books of poetry or inspiration, like “Women Who Run with the Wolves,” “Looking for Home,” and “Journal of a Solitude” are flipped through when I can’t find a place to start and need a prompt or a push into beginning. Sometimes copying down a paragraph of someone else’s words loosens up my own.

Some of the books I no longer need or like. They should go.

cornfield in winter

Papers are scattered across my desk and on the small rolling table that sits to my right. They contain information I refer to as I write my book – old letters, photos, journals, and bits of story I’ve written in the past. Are they bogging me down in details? Maybe. But I decide I need to stay there for awhile longer to go back in time and remember.

There is so much I’ve forgotten and not because it was something to forget but because I wasn’t paying close enough attention to know the significance at the time. How often am I doing that again? Am I doing it right now?

I’d love to go through my house, room by room, organizing and culling things to create space for my thoughts, to clear out anything that I felt I had to hold on to, being the one remaining keeper of memories, but now feel like they are holding me to a person and place I don’t want to be anymore. It feels like they keep me from becoming…

But I can’t take the time right now as it would turn into an excuse not to write or to get outside and walk or bicycle. It’s tempting to come up with excuses not to go outside when it looks so dark and cold and unwelcoming from inside the protection and light of my home. The older and more brittle and stiff I get, the harder it is to make myself move. It’s a good thing that I’m stern with myself, knowing what makes for good medicine.

On Saturday, I woke up with a headache that felt like it was going to ruin my whole day but one bike ride outside later, even though I fell on the ice, I returned home and realized that my headache was gone. Miracles are found outdoors.

bicycling on snowy path

Worse than any fall I can have outside, inside I fall into a trap of eternally preparing to do something I want to do.

After I finish cleaning the house…

After my closets are empty of crap…

After my kitchen is organized and the pie tins I never use are gone…

After all my old photos have been scanned and organized onto my computer…

After I have caught up on my filing…

After I lose ten pounds…

After these things are completed, then I can build a real life.

Until I realize, every decision, choice and action becomes my real life and I don’t want to be the person who is remembered as that skinny gal with the clean, organized house. But I also don’t want to be remembered as the woman who left behind a mess for someone else to clean up. There has to be a happy medium.

So that’s what I search for. The stuff that’s most important to me – the writing, photography, giving my animals and relationships attention and care, my music, getting outdoors, and being active – come first. And if there’s time (there often isn’t), I’ll take care of the cleaning and culling.

I hear that there is always enough time.

And I choose to trust that this is true.

downed tree in snow

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  1. I love your truthful writing, your life feels familiar to me and you always leave me with a smile, even when you don’t intend to.

  2. So well written. I was zooming through it, wondering what you’d say next that would resonate for me. As you’ve learned, I know that the best medicine is going outside and moving… so I always make it happen first. So, I might end up being someone who doesn’t do all that culling and cleaning that needs to be done to leave behind an organized house.

  3. Interesting as I am feeling much the same, but in order for me to move forward I must cull and clean to create the right work spaces…otherwise I am blocked. So that will happen in the next couple of weeks. Once I start I am a force at culling and cleaning. It won’t happen again for another 10 yrs, and I have been keeping it at bay until it is time now. And it won’t be a full on offensive, but enough to make a dent…as you say and I believe, I don’t want to wait anymore to build that real life.

    I do need to get sterner with myself to get outdoors…so many years of long hours cooped up has created bad habits in winter. thanks for the wonderful words and inspiration!

    1. Donna, you’ll have to let me know how it goes. Is it best to hit it all at once? Or break it down into smaller spaced out efforts? Maybe one day, one room, a month…

  4. Thank you all so much for your comments. It’s good to feel connected through words that relate common experiences and feelings. Perhaps especially in the winter when we might feel more isolated.

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